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UTME mass failure: Experts call for reforms

By Doyin Adeleye & Promise Ezekiel

As Nigeria continues to witness poor performance among candidates of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in recent years, educationists have called for urgent reforms to address the underlying issues.

The experts particularly emphasised the need for comprehensive solutions to tackle the persistent challenges faced by students in achieving satisfactory results in this crucial examination.

The scholars also called for a concerted effort to improve the reading culture among students, just as they stressed the importance of fostering a conducive learning environment from an early stage.

Equally, they underscored the necessity of integrating practical computer knowledge into the educational curriculum to equip students with the necessary skills for success in computer-based examinations such as the UTME.

Recall that the 2024 UTME results released by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) showed that, of the 1,842,464 earlier released results, a paltry 0.4 per cent candidates scored above 300, 24 per cent scored 50 per cent  (200/400) and above while 1,1,402,490, representing 76 per cent of the candidates got below 200 out of the total 400 marks.

The Hope gathered that several factors were attributed to the massive failure, including poor reading habit among candidates, faulty computer systems at the centres, lack of facilities in schools to adequately prepare the students, especially schools in rural areas, and poor preparation among candidates, among others.

Some of the candidates who wrote the 2024 UTME interacted with The Hope. Ajanaku Oluwanifemi revealed that, “most students were not serious because they believe education is not the way. The government is not responsible for the students’ failure; the problem is from us, the students.”

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She, however, noted that her questions were not hard at all, just as she disclosed that some people claimed what they read were not the questions they came across.

Hazizat Aregbeshola and Ibrahim Titilope blamed fellow candidates for being the architects of their misfortune as they believed the questions were not tough but their lack of reading and ability to comprehend questions led to the mass failure.

Candidates, like Ibrahim Titilope, also noted that many candidates relied on examination malpractice to excel but they were disappointed, going by the JAMB recent measures to checkmate.malpractices.

Responding, Head of the Mass Communication Department, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), Dr. Gbenga Abimbola, said that the massive failure is not peculiar to this year’s UTME alone but has been a trend for about five years now.

Abimbola listed poor reading culture, JAMB’s curbing of examination malpractices, lack of computer knowledge, and technical issues as major causes of the UTME failure.

He said many students have killed their reading culture with over-reliance on their mobile phones, tending to social interactions, saying that “the more they pay more attention to social interactions on social media, the more unlikely it is for them to pass.”

Abimbola added that the rate of examination malpractice has reduced because JAMB has put in more stringent methods like CCTV and biometrics to stop cheating, and the issue of impersonation is none near existence now.

“The results now are a true reflection of the performance and ability of the candidates, unlike in the past when exams were subjected to manipulation, giving room to students’ high scores in large numbers.”

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“Another reason is the technical issues as there are several students who have little or no knowledge in the usage of a computer”, adding that some candidates experienced technical and network issues at some examination centres.

He pleaded with the school centres that are to prepare the students for the examination, and the students themselves not to wait until when they are done with senior secondary school before preparing but to start as early as from their SSS1 class.

The scholar also highlighted that the results have always been affecting the university cut-off marks and candidates’ admission, thus making it not static.

Another scholar, Dr John Oyewole, from Mass Communication Department, AAUA, stressed the lack of seriousness among students as one of the major factors responsible for the mass failure.

He added that universities keep reducing admission cut-off marks due to the level of failure among UTME candidates.

Dr. Odusode Yisau Adelaja of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, believed that the foundation of students is a major factor in the massive failure of the UTME.

He said, “we are not giving desired attention to education in this country even right from primary and secondary schools as people coming to the university are products of primary and secondary education and if the teachers are not well motivated it might also cause failure.”

He also stated that the government and other stakeholders have roles to play, even as students themselves need to redirect their focus because there are so many things distracting them.

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While pointing out that students and their parents have some share in the blame, Mr John Adeniyi believed that the poor result was an omen of a systemic failure in the Nigerian educational system.

Adeniyi emphasised that while students bear some responsibility for their performance, the root causes of the problem lie in systemic deficiencies within the education sector.

He highlighted the critical need for improved infrastructure, including better learning facilities, qualified teachers, and access to resources such as the internet and computers.

“Without these essentials, creating a conducive learning environment remains a challenge,” Adeniyi stressed..

UTME mass failure: Experts call for reforms

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